Beyond the war: investigating war crimes in Kherson

Kherson map Kherson map Unknown author via unsplash

Murder, sexual violence and torture are commonplace among civilians involved in the Ukrainian war

After about eight months of siege, on 11 November 2023 Ukraine's armed forces entered Kherson, regaining control of the port in the south area of the city.Around 60,000 residents live in this area, compared to 300,000 in the pre-war period.

According to the Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR), the area was liberated, the regional law enforcement agencies have opened over 16,000 criminal cases regarding more than 19,000 violations
The war crimes discovered have been committed by Russian military forces, both in the de-occupied and occupied territories. However, the data is lacking as it is extremely difficult to identify the precise number of violence perpetrated against civilians, especially in the territories occupied by Russian forces.

Investigators have discovered 19 places of illegal detention where civilians were detained and tortured. One of the largest was in the temporary detention facility of the Kherson police. About 400 civilians were held there.Since the occupation, Russian forces have committed over 200 intentional killings of civilians as a result of shelling.War crimes against civilians included torture of detainees (of both sexes), sexual violence, not only against women but also against men, and countless psychological violations. Lack of hygiene within places of detention.According to Institute for War & Peace Reporting, It has been also discovered that the electrocution of men's genitals was a common form of torture but till now men are reluctant to share their experiences. 

Human Rights Watch interviewed 34 people about the abusive treatment of civilians during the Russian occupation of the Khersonska region, from March 2022 until the withdrawal of Russian forces from much of the area on November 11. 
Twelve former detainees and 10 family members described detainees being tortured or witnessing the torture of other detainees, which in three reported cases resulted in their deaths. 
The purpose of the abuse seems to be to obtain information and to instill fear so that people will accept the occupation, as Russia seeks to assert sovereignty over occupied territory in violation of international law.

As reported by CNN, Russia has repeatedly denied accusations of torture and human rights abuses in Ukraine despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, investigated, compiled, and shared by international human rights organizations and news organizations.


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